The setting of Judge Dredd is so formulaic and repetitive that I should save it to autotext: In a dystopian future where everyone has moved to the already over-populated cities, crime is rife and law enforcement practically non-existent…
Into this environment come the Judges, police officers with the authority to nab, try and impose a sentence of their choosing to befit the crimes of the perpetrator. Judge Dredd (Sly Stallone) being the most ‘judgiest’ of all. He is renowned, feared and respected (feared or respected depending on which side of the law you stand) and the full embodiment of the ideal Judge.
So of course given Hollywood’s complete lack of respect for their audience we are expected to believe that in a few scant hours Dredd’s career and reputation is unraveled so swiftly and to such an extent that he is thrown in jail, framed by Rico (Armand Assante), his ex-partner who went bad long ago and has escaped custody.
It is on the way to prison that Judge Dredd (I guess stripped of rank he is just ‘Dredd’) meets with Fergie (Rob Schneider), another inmate who pleads his innocence – or at least ‘not-very’ guilty. I might point out here that Schneider didn’t disgust me for a full 10 minutes in this film, though his general physical ugliness was offputting, it might have helped that in that span he had maybe two words of dialogue.
No it definitely helped. The titular Judge Dredd is grim, humourless and pompous, but that’s his character. Once he starts his inane yapping Fergie is equally boring, but he is supposed to be the comic relief! (Also furthering my tangent it can’t be a coincidence that another yappy inane talentless hack is named Fergie, can it Black Eyed Peas???)
Moving on, Dredd and Fergie head off into the wasteland while chaos ensues within the city walls – yes Dredd was the only one keeping crime at bay it seems. Within the walls police chief Max Von Sydow is powerless to halt the onslaught of anarchy, his successor Jurgen Prochnow is hardly helping, and Armand Assante out-hams them all with his goggle-eyed ferocity and rock-em sock-em robot sidekick.
Only Diane Laneas the young Judge that never stopped believin’ remains convinced that Dredd will return to save the day.
Judge Dredd has its share of violence, it has some blood and guts, it even boasts a cannibal family for a short while. It is fair to say that without the execrable Schneider sidekick (that it is alleged Stallone insisted upon), Judge Dredd wouldn’t actually be awful, just pretty bad.
But while Schneider’s character nearly dies multiple times alas the director flat out refused to answer my prayers, what remains is your standard comic book movie adaptation that fails – for the same reasons;
Step 1: Take the cool characters and backdrop from a comic,
Step 2: Bash/tamper and alter with those characters until they fit the same story for the script that was sitting on your desk, draining the source material of any possible charm and diluting the effectiveness of the story until it becomes a bland replica of the rest.
Final Rating – 5.5 / 10. When Rob Schneider is your comic relief you’re up against it from the start. This could actually have been worse, but it still isn’t worth tracking down.